At the end of the first year, the Biomedical Sciences student will have gained an appreciation for the broadly based, interdisciplinary nature of organ systems, making them well-prepared to begin their research journey to identify the mechanisms responsible for the development of human disease:
- Laboratory rotations begin during the first semester. Students will rotate in two or more laboratories of their choosing.
- Biomedical Sciences Concepts: Covers topics relevant to the mechanisms of human disease and emphasizes a systems-integrated perspective on human disease and biomedical research.
- Professional and Ethical Issues in Biomedical Sciences: Offers formal training in the responsible and ethical conduct of research.
- Research Techniques and Resources: Provides laboratory safety training, introduces techniques, promotes presentation skills and informs students of core resources available.
- Research Problem-Solving: Allows trainees to dissect, discuss and critique journal papers relevant to the core course topics.
- Select dissertation advisor by spring of first year.
Students will begin in the summer term and will register for a Laboratory Rotation (BSGP 7930). The students will be given a list of faculty members willing to take on rotating students and they may also research faculty members on their own.
In addition, all Biomedical Sciences students are required to take a course in Laboratory Research Techniques and Resources (BSGP 8050). The Laboratory Research Techniques and Resources course was designed to prepare the students for their laboratory rotations and dissertation research by covering three general areas:
- Laboratory safety
- Commonly used laboratory techniques
- Research resources available to the students
The autumn semester curriculum includes one required course and a laboratory rotation. All Biomedical Sciences students are required to take Biomedical Sciences Concepts course (BSGP 7000). The core curriculum concepts course is outlined below.
Block 1: Fundamental molecular biology
- Nucleic Acids
- Transcription & Translation
- Genes & Genomes
Block 2: Cell Biology
- Molecular & Cellular Physiology
- Cytoskeleton & Extracellular Matrix
- Molecular Pharmacology
Block 3: Systems
- Microbial Pathogenesis
- Computational Biology
- Experimental Therapeutics
During the spring semester of the first year students will take two required courses and complete one or two lab rotations that are seven weeks in length. The two required courses are Professional and Ethical Issues in Biomedical Science (BIOPHRM 7510) and Research Problem Solving in Biomedical Science (BSGP 7040). The ethics course is designed to provide students with insight into the potential ethical dilemmas associated with biomedical research, and provide a basis for making decisions when faced with an ethical problem.
The research problem solving course is a discussion class, thus active participation in the small groups is required. Students are assigned papers and the following week they meet in small groups to work out the paper in the absence of faculty. The next class period the students are organized into two groups of 15 students plus two faculty members. Then the same paper is discussed with the faculty groups. Grading is based on participation in the discussion group. The goal of each class is to teach a complete understanding of all aspects of a given paper and to evaluate whether the data support the conclusions.
Prior to choosing a dissertation advisor at the end of the first year, students will be required to complete at least two laboratory rotations (BSGP-7930), but not to exceed four rotations by the end of spring semester. Students should spend a minimum of three to four hours in the laboratory for each credit hour of BSGP-7930. By the end of the spring semester, students are expected to have a dissertation advisor and subsequently register for laboratory research in BSGP-8999.
Choice of Advisor and Research Problem
Soon after an applicant is admitted, the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program office will appoint a First Year Advisor. The first year advisor will meet with their assigned student(s) on orientation day or another designated time close to beginning the program to discuss progress, plans, and challenges. Important items for discussion will be the choice of a laboratory rotation, potential dissertation advisors, elective courses to take, and area-of-research emphasis transcript designations.
Throughout these discussions, the first year advisor will emphasize the integrative and cross-disciplinary aspects of the student’s training. Should any urgent issue arise during this time, the student will contact the first year advisor and arrange for additional meetings. The first year advisor will meet with the student for the second time at the end of autumn semester. The student will present to the first year advisor a report of their academic progress, a specific academic plan for the second year, and a general plan for subsequent years. Taking into account the suggestions of the first year advisor, the student will revise this report and submit it to the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program office.
During mid-spring semester of the first year, the student and first year advisor discuss seriously their academic and research plans, as well as their choices for dissertation advisor. By the end of the first year, and no later than the beginning of second year, each student has chosen a mentor for their dissertation research from the 2-3 rotations they experienced in the first year. As soon as the dissertation advisor is chosen, they will formally meet with the student one-on-one at least once per week, preferably more. The dissertation advisory committee will meet formally with the student twice during the second year and at least annually, thereafter.